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This particular autumn day a NAD 1763 surround sound receiver was the perfect therapy for my weary bones. The 1763 represents the middle ground of performance receivers by NAD. It is a descendant of generations of award-winning electronic components, from a company that would rather be known in serious audiophile circles than by a group of teenagers gathered at a mega-electronics store. Finding an authorized NAD dealer may be harder than driving down to your local Appliances-R-Us, but the rewards of enjoying one of their performance-oriented receivers, such as the 1763, is well worth the effort.
Unique Features - NAD has earned a reputation for producing power amplifiers that deliver the power they promise with minimal noise distortion. By using NAD's PowerDrive amplifier technology, power adjustments are made automatically to meet the needs of each loudspeaker. The benefit to the PowerDrive system is an even power distribution for dynamic performance with little distortion even at high volume levels. And speaking of volume levels, the 1763 asserts an ample 100 continuous watts per channel into six channels driven simultaneously. Even large rooms benefit from the considerable power the 1763 demonstrates.
A review of the NAD 1763 wouldn't be complete without including one of the most highly regarded music surround modes available, the EARS circuit. Developed by NAD, the EARS (Enhanced Ambient Recovery System) circuit is a digital signal processor designed to create an artificial listening environment. Unlike many other DSP systems, the EARS circuit uses proprietary NAD surround processing to reproduce a two-channel recording with a natural ambient acoustic sound without resorting to artificially generated reflections or regenerations. This subtle but effective surround mode enhances the spatial presence of a recording for a tremendously enjoyable experience. Digitally speaking, the 1763 combines this high-speed DSP engine with a 24-bit 96kHz-sampling-capable D/A converter for all channels.
Beyond processing and amplifying a sound source, this receiver has the flexibility to act as a command center for a variety of home theater needs. The receiver offers video switching for all the popular video formats such as component, composite and S-Video, and digital audio inputs and outputs as well. To accommodate a separate listening experience, NAD has added a convenient second zone to the speaker outputs for a second pair of speakers to be added to the front channel amplifiers. Playing music in a separate room, by the poolside or in the garage is as simple as running the speaker wires and using the include separate second zone remote control.
Because technology advances so rapidly, most new electronics are left behind almost as fast as they hit store shelves. With the 1763, NAD wanted to create a flexible system that could be improved as new technology emerged. This "future-proof' design is possible by upgrading the 1763 operating software through a RS-232 data port. In addition to upgrades, the Windows-compatible NAD software can interface with a personal computer for connection to highly advanced automated control systems. Complete remote control functionality of the 1763 from a remote location is available with an optional accessory available from NAD audio specialists. This forward thinking flexibility adds value to an already valuable piece of equipment.
Installation/Setup/Ease of Use
Like other NAD products I've had the pleasure of reviewing, the 1763 has a beautiful simplicity about it. The unit is attractive and well built without a multitude of LEDs, buttons or switches to clutter up the front panel. The few buttons that are located on the front panel each serve a distinct purpose and are clearly marked. An oval display window in the center of the receiver gives the user solid feedback of the controls with its unambiguous white readout. To select a video input and its assigned audio and digital inputs, a single video button is used. For audio selections, an audio button is provided to step through audio sources. These two buttons do the work of separate buttons for each input such as a DVD, CD, satellite, VCR, etc. This simplicity bridges the gap between form and function because the controls are easy to operate, logical and straightforward. Additionally, each input can be renamed and the video, analog and digital inputs are assignable or can even be selected as "off'.
When setting up the T763, it is recommended to connect the receiver to a monitor to take advantage of the On Screen Display (OSD). I was reminded of this after I wired an MB Quart Vera series speaker ensemble to the receiver and the powered subwoofer wasn't playing. By connecting the unit to my display, I was able to configure the 1763 speaker settings menu to turn on the subwoofer output. The OSD is a powerful tool capable of making changes to input settings, speaker settings, crossover points and listening modes. Although a sound pressure level metering system isn't included, the channel balance can be adjusted with the OSD by using an inexpensive SPL meter (such as the Radio Shack #33-2050 meter) or simply by ear. By increasing or decreasing the decibel levels of each channel, adjusting the speaker distance and fine-tuning the delays, the T763 can be refined to fit the dimensions of most rooms for optimal imaging.
Once configured, system parameters can be saved to one of five presets. After being saved and named into the non-volatile memory, the presets can be recalled to match a specific speaker setup. For example, you might name a preset "movie" that has a prominent center channel and increased sub output. A preset named "music" may have a lower crossover frequency and reduced sub level.
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